Smart grid analytics: Thought leader finally makes serious push


By: SGN Staff


Quick Take:On the one hand, SAS is embarrassingly late to the smart grid party. The North Carolina analytics powerhouse has been nibbling around the edges for a few years now, but without making much of a mark.


Now the company has finally launched a serious effort. Normally, we wouldn't bother to cover a me-too announcement, especially one that is a good five years overdue. But SAS is such a force in Big Data in other industries, it will pay utilities to see what they are up to. At the very least, the energy forecasting effort described below will push other providers to up their game. - By Jesse Berst


SAS® Energy Forecasting increases return on smart grid investment

Big data analytics saves utility customers millions of dollars


Faced with volatile wholesale energy markets and increasingly complex asset portfolios, utility executives need robust load forecasting to improve planning and operations while ensuring customers’ lights come on when they flip the switch. Without analytics, the increasing volume and variety of data can easily overwhelm traditional forecasting systems and processes.


SAS Energy Forecasting, a new product from the business analytics leader, helps utilities operate more efficiently and effectively by capitalizing on new interval data being returned from smart meters. Unlike other load forecasting software, SAS Energy Forecasting supports multiple planning horizons - from the next hour to the next 50 years. Utilities can leverage big data from smart meters, power plants and other sources to produce accurate and timely forecasts of short- and long-term load and demand. This helps the utilities better trade energy on the open market, while optimally managing power plants, generators and other assets.


"We saved utility customers millions of dollars in our first year using SAS,” said David Hamilton, Manager of Load Forecasting for Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, which provides wholesale power to 11 not-for-profit distribution cooperatives in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. "Our organization is not one to add people. If we need to do another project, then I need to wear another hat. With SAS, we can capitalize on massive volumes of new data and quickly adjust to changing conditions. We needed to understand how our customers are likely to buy energy in the future. We couldn't answer that question for the organization if we didn't have SAS.”


Generating a return on smart grid investments

Investor-owned utilities are charged with delivering safe and reliable power that meets customer expectations while delivering shareholder value. The ability to predict the volume, variability and location of energy demand brings significant financial rewards to companies that successfully tap the value of big data.


"SAS recognized the opportunity to leverage utilities’ big data to make a marked improvement in forecasting effectiveness,” said Alyssa Farrell, SAS Global Marketing Manager for Energy and Utilities. "Working with our customers, we developed SAS Energy Forecasting to go beyond what any forecaster has had access to before. We include utility-specific forecasting models as well as a comprehensive forecasting toolset for further refinement or custom configuration. The combination of data mining and other analytical methods produces forecasts that more accurately reflect business realities and better guide decision makers ranging from load forecasters to senior executives.”